How Fearless Leaders Do Nothing

Something unexpected is happening with leaders.

Or should I say not happening.

Over a single week in February I met with three coaching clients. Each was working away on their plans for the new year. Each was excited about the future. And yet, to our surprise, each of those sessions led to a moment when I blurted out,

“Do you need a break?!”

After a split-second of astonishment, a look of happy relief appeared on each face.

Then we got to work figuring out how they could.


The synchronicity got me thinking,

Why is it so hard for leaders to take a break?


Maybe because, like those leaders, you’re really energized by an idea or project.

Maybe because you think everything will come to a halt or fall apart if you step away.

Maybe because you think it sets a bad example to your co-workers.

Maybe because you never get through your to-do list, so how the heck…?


Maybe because no one asked.



I get that taking a break is easier said than done.

But some fearless leaders are finding out that taking a break is not only surprisingly doable, but

it’s a long overdue necessity.

So here are a few break ideas with how and why to try them.


a break from responsibility

How: Delegate responsibility to others, or take turns among partners

Results: A refreshed leader with clearer perspective








How: 10 minutes of meditation in a visually and sonically quiet place.

Results: A leader tuned in to their body and breath, noticing, accepting, and releasing their stress.


do nothing

How: Evaluate your resistance to this idea.

Separate out the real obstacles and see how you might manage them, and for how long.

Ask for help and put support in place.

Results: (In my client’s words after a six-week break)

“Doing nothing was not easy or familiar. Planning is. But I gave myself time and space. With no pressure to jump, you’re open. I’m more aware of things I’m hearing and seeing in my community; I’m starting to see what they need and how I could serve.”

permission to not be helpful  

How: Listen more. Listening means not trying to fix things for others. Ask folks who come to you with a burning problem to always bring along a solution or two. Have them try the one they think is best.
Results: A team that learns to solve things without you (and when they need your ear). A leader with fewer fires to put out and more time for connecting, observing, and strategy.

Or chair yoga.


Credits: ‘Breaks’ inspired by 9 Types of Rest by ninetypesco

Photos: Shaker Village, Harrodsburg KY – Puzzle night – The Lautner Compound, Desert Hot Springs – Albert Frey in his Frey House II, Palm Springs


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